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Natalie Bloem
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello, my mother tongue is Portuguese, and I speak fluent English, Spanish and French. I've recently married with a Belgian whose mother tongue is Flemish (Dutch) and French, and speaks fluent English. Since we met we've been communicating in English. We moved in together last year, establishing ourselves in Brussels. 
My husband has three kids (9, 11 and 14 years old), who were born and live in the Netherlands. They come to us every other weekend. They speak Dutch among themselves and with my husband when they are here, and that is extremely stressful for me. We sit down to have meals together, and I feel left out as the kids lively chat among themselves as if I were not there. The moment my husband, or myself, ask them to speak English they shut up, even though the 14-year-old can hold a conversation in English (albeit with some effort), and the 11-year-old is able to communicate a story or idea with very limited vocabulary (also with effort). As for the 9-year-old, he can speak but a few sentences but is picking up the language very quickly. 
I am studying Flemish, but I don't think I will get to a good level of communication anytime soon. My husband and I are continuously discussing about this issue, i.e., how to create proper communication among all people in the house when the kids are here. Since we live in Brussels, and French is a native tongue of my husband, we'd like to make French our household language. 
I have no idea on how to proceed with this! The kids only come every other weekend, and when they go back home they speak Dutch full-time. 
Any suggestions, please?
Reply with quote  #2 
I suggest start labeling everything with french words.. like door-port, chair-chaise so they can see it and get a sense and idea of the language.. Since the kids are older they might have fun helping... play frensch music while they there, watch french dvds and so on... and just talk talk talk.. even when you dont talk with them describe what you doing: Like: Dad is cleaning the house, he picks up a broom, he has the broom in his right hand (just in french)
Good Luck
Natalie Bloem
Reply with quote  #3 
Sandra, thank you very much for your input! These are very good ideas that I am surely going to implement! 
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Natalie - I know this is not a new post but I was doing some internet research as I am in a similar situation as you.
My fiance is Dutch and we both live and work in the UK. He speaks fluent English and Dutch so our relationship has always been conducted in English. He has 2 kids (girl and boy) from a previous relationship with his Dutch ex (twins, both 6). They were born in the UK but moved back to The Netherlands with their mother about 2 years ago. Needless to say, they no longer speak English as their first language (though they fully understand it still ). My ex shares custody with them and I see them on average about x1 or x2 a month.While I do try to pick up some phrases, I feel I am not bonding with them as much as I would if there was no language barrier. I am more concerned about the boy as the girl seems to be able to communicate with me in basic English but lately, the boy has been quite distant with me and has said to his father he finds it difficult to switch to English when I am around. 
I feel at a loose end as I really want t bond further and like you, am concerned that I may not get to a good conversational level in Dutch. I was wondering what developments here were with your situation and if you had any tips?
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